Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells migrate and rescue RPE in the setting of oxidative stress

Aya Barzelay*, Shira Weisthal Algor, Anat Niztan, Sebastian Katz, Moshe Benhamou, Itay Nakdimon, Noam Azmon, Sandy Gozlan, Daphna Mezad-Koursh, Meira Neudorfer, Michaella Goldstein, Benjamin Meilik, Anat Loewenstein, Adiel Barak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oxidative stress leads to the degeneration of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) and photoreceptor cells. We evaluated the potential of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) as a therapeutic tool by studying the migration capacity of ASCs in vitro and their protective effect against RPE cell death under oxidative stress in vitro and in vivo. ASCs exhibited enhanced migration when exposed to conditioned medium of oxidative stressed RPE cells obtained by hydrogen peroxide. Migration-related axis SDF-1/ CXCR4 was studied, and upregulation of SDF-1 in stressed RPE and of CXCR4 in ASCs was detected. Moreover, ASCs’ conditioned medium prevented H2O2-induced cell death of RPE cells. Early passage ASCs had high expression level of HGF, low VEGF levels, and unmodulated IL-1β levels, compared to late passage ASCs. Thus, early passage ASCs show the potential to migrate towards damaged RPE cells and protect them in a paracrine manner from cell death induced by oxidative stress. In vivo, mice received systemic injection of NaIO3, and 72 h later, ASCs were transplanted in the subretinal space. Seven days after ASC transplantation, the eyes were enucleated fixed and frozen for immunohistochemical analysis. Under such conditions, ASC-treated mice showed preservation of nuclear layers in the outer nuclear layer and stronger staining of RPE and photoreceptor layer, compared to PBS-treated mice. Taken together, our results indicate that ASCs are able to home in on damaged RPE cells and protect against damage to the RPE and PR layers caused by oxidative stress. These data imply the potential that ASCs have in regenerating RPE under oxidative stress, providing the basis for a therapeutic approach to retinal degeneration diseases related to oxidative stress that could help save the eyesight of millions of people worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9682856
JournalStem Cells International
StatePublished - 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells migrate and rescue RPE in the setting of oxidative stress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this